tv [untitled] September 22, 2011 12:30pm-1:00pm PDT
johsean elsbernd. are klerk today is linour clerk. could you please call item no. 1. >> item number one, ordinance amending the students go campaign and government section. it is capping the amount of public matching funds. i believe we have the department head for the ethics commission here to speak to us today. >> good morning, supervisors. on june 27 the supreme court issued a decision, which struck down arizona's public finance
law, in particular because having reached certain thresholds public candidates get additional public funds in response to independent expenditures. the supreme court did not actually issue a ruling on whether public financing is and of itself constitutional. in san francisco -- san francisco's program is not identical to arizona. there is a similarity where independent expenditures or other canid expenditures exceed the caps that are placed on public finance candidates, those individual candidates will have their caps raised. they can raise individual private funds for which there are then public matching. our concern is that this particular similarity is hon. to challenge in courts, so the ethics commission has acted
forestall -- to forestall what could be an expensive exercise by trying to alter the program so that maintains the fundamental elements of public financing, which is to get candidates more time with the voters, and perhaps have le officeholders' less subjected to candidates. in eliminating the program we do not believe is the option leaving the status quo leads as vulnerable to an expensive exercise of the courts. completely leaving the caps in tact would be a disincentive to participate in the program, and we certainly believe it would be unfair to the current round of candidates who have unfortunately joined the campaign under one set of rules, and because of this ruling will likely have to finish it under another set.
of more alternative was to leave the rights of the candidates in place to raise private funds, but to limit the amount of public money distributed all level of the original cut. -- at the level of the original cap. there has been some talk of finding an alternative method, but in all honesty i have not seen an alternative proposal to the states. left with that, we believe this is our most promising and effective alternative. supervisor kim: think you for being here. just a quick question, of the candidates that have declared for the mayor's race, how many are publicly financed candidates? >> eight. supervisor kim: thank you. we also have the sponsor of the legislation here today. supervisor elsbernd would you like to say a few words? supervisor elsbernd: we also
have the oakland city attorney here. i would like to thank you for stepping forward in helping us with this to help recused issues with this year's election. the oakland city attorney has release stepped up. thank you for the memo. i believe it has been laid out appropriately, but i would remind my colleagues and public i think it was just before recess in june or july where we at this committee had to settle a lawsuit that cost the city $300,000 because our campaign laws were not legal, and quite frankly i am not interested in forking over more taxpayer dollars to defend something that is quite clearly again out of whack. i think this ordinance and a very limited way addresses it maintains the public financing system and allows it to go forward.
they're just here for questions. supervisor kim: any questions from colleagues? if you do not mind the answer and a few questions. -- mind answering a few questions. >> i will do my best comic given that there are party sitter itching to sue the city of this particular matter. supervisor kim: could you speak a little bit about the similarities and differences between san francisco's system and arizona? you are ready outplayed it, but -- >> right. the similarity is that in arizona increased infusions of public financing would come in based on independent expenditures and campaigning by outside parties. the supreme court said that because of that connection the public financing burdened the independent expenditures. and our situation in san
francisco there is a similar connection between outside expenditures in public financing. the difference is that in order for a canada in san francisco to obtain public financing, it is a match, so the canada has to raise money before the match happens. is that a distinction without a difference in the eyes of the court? i can answer that right now. if it goes to litigation, that would be one of the matters litigated. but there is a connection between outside expenditures and public financing that can be made or argue, and that is the rest here in san francisco. >supervisor kim: thank you, and if none of the candidates this year are able to hit the trigger, with this legislation -- would we be right for litigation?
>> that is an excellent point. if there is no increase in the expenditure limit and public financing is not coming in, then, yes, the argument is it is not right. you will have to speak with your ethics commission director as to how likely that will be in this current election, and one can argue it will happen sometime in the future. for example, in the board of supervisors race. supervisor kim: is there any legal issue with changing the rules halfway through the election after canada's have an expectation of how this will be structured? >> well, i guess an argument can be made, but the countervailing argument is something is unconstitutional, you cannot say we agree to this. it is unconstitutional. supervisor kim: thank you very
much. if there are no further questions, at this time we will open up for public comment. two minutes. >> supervisors, my name is erkks washington. i am here to make an announcement. i am rededicating myself in city hall to bring out what i call and have been sitting for over 20 years. right now is to speak here i just got in here and heard something about the city was sued $300,000 for doing so thinmething "illegal." my question is to the city legislature's, who is in control right here in san francisco? i mean, over the 20 years i have been here i have never seen city hall in the position that it is in now.
there is no reflection on a new supervisor that is here, but i am appalled of city government down here at city hall. it is city, silly, ya'all. i am telling, ya'all. i have suffered indignities, racism at its highest. as you see here, i am an african american citizens here, which our population is going down, which some would say is insignificant. i am here to tell you we may have a dysfunction of there in our communities, but if they knew what goes on here in city hall -- this corruption, disruption, and a lot of other things.
i will do a story on city hall. i am just appalled. the mayor's race and all of these campaign issues. i hope you put things together. supervisor kim: thank you. next speaker, please. >> good morning, supervisors. i have lived in san francisco for 59 years. on the issue of public matching funds, according to my research it is debatable whether it is affected. there are arguments pro and con on the subjects i. i think you can argue it all day. one of the items i did notice on today's agenda was that there is only one item on the agenda. given that the city has so many problems, i have a feeling we should have more than one item on the agenda. i am sure our hard-working
supervisors will be able to find something to work on. in regard to the ethics commission and being involved on this subject matter, i would like to make a suggestion to the rules committee in regards to the ethics commission that maybe we could save a few dollars and give the money to the poor and needy by eliminating the ethics commission. the reason why i feel that way is before the passing of mr. joe when he was verlyng,nn, he was o spend time with me, and one of the things he mentioned was the ethics commission was very skilled at passing practices. if they're going to arbitrarily make decisions to refuse to answer questions in writing, then maybe we do not need an ethics commission and give the money to the poor and needy. thank you. supervisor kim: thank you.
any other public comment at this time? cnn, public comment is now closed. quickly in response to why there is only one item on this agenda, it is because we had to call a special rules committee. the request came in after notification for the regular meeting last thursday. recalled an additional rules committee for this item that did not make it in time. -- we called an additional rules committee for this item that did not make it in time. any discussion, colleagues? supervisor elsbernd: i believe they made it pretty clear. i would ask them to send this forward to tomorrow's board meeting. supervisor kim: thank you. i do feel comfortable moving this forward. i know we are under particular time line if we do want to support the legislation moving forward, so i supported moving forward. public financing is something that is an important tenet of
many of our community advocates in terms of leveling the playing field for our candidates and limiting -- eliminating the need for candidates to go out to the more generous voters who are referred -- were able to contribute more, and i think is an important part of leveling here in san francisco. and actually of candidates being able to rise to many of our special interests who are able to spend additional dollars opposing or supporting candidates. i can support this without recommendation, but we can also take a roll call. supervisor elsbernd: in response to your comments, tomorrow i really think a no vote is writing a blank check to joe sutton. what is more foreign to those communities, having dollars available for services or
standing on principle but has been deemed unconstitutional? i hope you and others on the board will consider that. in fact, you will be handling taxpayer money to jim sutton, the so many of you have said you do not like. supervisor kim: i think it is unfortunate that public financing have to fight for the same dollars, and i think it is something we would all like to see as prioritizing our services. i do think having a fair playing ground is important for many of our candidates and our elected officials as well. i think this is afford litigation for many of us to see forward in terms of what the ruling means for the future of public financing, and i think there is some question as to whether litigation would be successful in this circumstance, given the key differences between arizona and san francisco. supervisor elsbernd: buwhat are
the differences that are key? the court's decision is simply on the matter of once the limit is met. there is nothing in the decision whatsoever that has anything to do what increment. respectfully i think you are cropping up -- grasping at straws callles. supervisor kim: the city of the past has taken a stance on issues to other issues that we've philosophically believed in and felt was more of our time in challenging in the courts. i know colleagues on the boards have taken positions that have put as and risk of litigation in
the past couple of months, and i do think there are some differences. supervisor elsbernd: ok. supervisor kim: supervisor chiu. supervisor chiu: thank you. i do think the advice from the attorney has been helpful to me to work through this issue. one of the things i think by the director is important that this amendment is something that would still by and large maintain the integrity of the public financing campaign, the big basic component of it and really helps to protect the city from further litigation, given what we know in terms of lawsuits that have come before the courts, and so i think the difference in the city taking risks on other issues versus
this issue is that we do actually have a court ruling that is very indicative of where we might see the risks going. for me, i will be supporting this. i do think we maintain the basic structure of the programming still, even with the amendment. supervisor elsbernd: let me throw out one more factual thing. we can use the mayor's race. pthis is only going to impact those candidates who have raised enough money to reach the cap. it is not going to impact candidates that have not raised 1.4 3 million or whatever. it would only keep those candidates -- i am wondering how many candidates in that community are raising that much money? it would only infringe upon those candidacies. those candidates that were down
at $500 million, it will be zero impact. it is only the folks that the very high end. how many of those folks meet your definition of our community? >> i agree. that is a really good argument, and something that i will thoroughly considered. in the past we have had very lopsided elections for candidates that alston each other 721. -- that outspend each other 7 to 1. it is something i will definitely consider tomorrow, but i think it is support for candidates to be able to stand against special interest contributions in its campaign to be able to reach the public. i appreciate your point on that. supervisor kim: any further discussions?